Turning plastic waste into pavement slabs, acid water into drinking water and making leather from mushrooms - these are some of the achievements of the 2019 winners for the SEED Low Carbon Awards.
Founded in 2002 by the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, SEED is a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy. SEED considers entrepreneurship as the road towards sustainable development.
The 2019 SEED Awards recognize 14 innovative start-ups from Africa and Asia working in sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, waste, renewable energy, water and sanitation, sustainable tourism, biodiversity and conservation.
Svenja Schulze, German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, one of the main supporters of the Awards, highlighted the importance of the enterprises in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.
"The private sector, including small enterprises, has huge potential to move forward the fast and fair transition in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," said Schulze. "This award highlights the innovative potential of small green and social enterprises and showcases the economic and social opportunities for often marginalized communities. It serves as a great motivation for others to follow."
The 2019 winners are:
Nelplast--a Ghanaian enterprise which turns plastic waste into pavement slabs. The enterprise, which works mainly with women and youth, has collected and recycled over two tonnes of plastic per day, preventing this waste from ending up in landfills.
Aikya Organics--an Indian company that promotes an eco-inclusive agricultural value chain. Activities range from training women farmers in low-cost input and natural farming techniques, to installing seed and tool banks and solar-powered processing and packaging facilities.
Mycotech--an Indonesian vegan leather company, which produces leather from mushrooms. Beyond producing this innovative material, Mycotech aims to create more eco-consciousness in the fashion industry.
Green Impact Technologies--a Malawian green energy company whose business model allows customers to upload energy credit periodically through mobile money. Green Impact Technologies is also developing a biogas plant which will generate energy from agricultural waste for use by local restaurant entrepreneurs.
Kibebe--Malawian enterprise Kibebe trains marginalized artisans to produce upcycled products to sell. The product line includes 35 products made from recycled materials. They also offer tours of the production centre and camp to bring customers closer to the communities that make the products.
AfriLeap--South African company Afrileap will grow hop cones of various varieties, process them into dried pellets or wet cones, and then package the pellets according to industry standards. These hop cones are used in beer production for flavour and to preserve the brewed product.
BN Aqua Solutions--a South African enterprise that uses metallurgical waste to turn acidic water to drinking water. The treated acid water is then sold to mines to save on drinking water costs and reduces the mines' dependency on the municipalities. The custom-made packaged treatment plants will be built and set up onsite at the mines.
Hustlenomics--South African Hustlenomics targets low-income homeowners who cannot access traditional home-improvement financing. Hustlenomics replaces their shacks with durable structures using recycled bricks. The company applies an innovative shared home financing model where rental income from the completed structure is used to recoup building costs, before eventually allowing for full ownership.
Meat Naturally-- South African Meat Naturally encourages livestock management that mimics natural wildlife movements. It also provides flexible but consistent market access, and enables African communal farmers to capitalize on market prices without incurring market risks.
Fang Thai Factory (GROW)--Thai enterprise Fang Thai provides one of the most environment-friendly options of packaging products. Its paper is not only biodegradable but also water, oil and grease resistant with a non-chemical coating solution that is made from rice. Fang Thai currently targets business customers who share their social and environmental concerns.
Tusafishe Low Cost Institutional Water Filters--Ugandan company Tusafishe produces advertizes, sells, and installs automated low-cost filters that eliminate the use of solid fuels to provide safe drinking water for large communities. Together with Finance Trust Bank, clients including schools have access to flexible loans to acquire the filters.
Kukula Solar-- Zambian Kukula Solar purchases solar products wholesale from manufacturers and sells them to customers directly through the "solarpreneurs" in the local community. Customers are generally families living on less than US$2 a day without access to electricity. Some products, generally smaller units, are sold outright, others are purchased under a rent-to-own system.
Dytech Limited--The Zambian enterprise uses unwanted wood from wood processing centres and plantations to produce and sell double-decker beehives. Hives cost US$4 and are assigned to outgrowers to produce honey for export into global markets such as China, Egypt, Germany and South Africa.
ENRAPOWER --Zimbabwean ENRAPOWER provides energy solutions as a wholesaler of renewable energy equipment for small and medium-sized enterprises. They ensure an efficient supply of these products through the sale of energy equipment, solar installation and project management services.